October 23, 2015

Beasts of No Nation (2015)

Beasts of No Nation (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: Cary Fukunaga
Country: USA

Movie Review: American filmmaker, screenwriter, producer, and cinematographer, Cary Fukunaga, shoots beautifully and proves not only to have an eye for detail but also that he’s a director with no defined bounds or roots. He quickly got recognition with his first feature-length film, “Sin Nombre”, which addressed a particular universe pelted with ruthless gangs, set near the Mexican-US border. His sophomore feature, “Jane Eyre”, was a well-succeeded adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel of the same name. This year, he brings us the wilder “Beasts of No Nation”, a movie centered in an untold African country where a young boy, Agu (Abraham Attah), who lost his family when his village was taken by the army, falls in the hands of the rebels, becoming a brainwashed, highly-trained fighter alienated by war, misery, and his own thirst for revenge. This tale, an adaptation of Nigerian Uzodinma Iweala’s debut novel entirely shot in Ghana, starts perspicaciously funny with the kids trying to sell an ‘imagination TV’ to the soldiers or to obtain some money from the passing drivers, simulating the cutting of trees that they lay down in the middle of the streets. Shortly, there's a constant exhibition of violence (in its physical and psychological forms), and the characters exult in occasional dances that end up in harrowing killings. It also shows a significant insight when revealing in what conditions the rebel squad was operating, as well as when focuses on the leadership confrontation between soldiers and politicians. Obedience and sham rules are highlighted factors presented throughout the story. Agu looks at his prepotent Commandant (Idris Elba) as a sort of a father. On the one hand, he really wants to follow him, but on the other, he feels something’s wrong since a father shouldn’t act like a mad man, initiating him into drugs, sex, and often ordering him to kill innocent people. Despite the astonishing cinematography, Mr. Fukunaga, whose camera moves adroitly in accordance to the more or less boisterous situations, should have let the images talk more by themselves. Too many explanations are given - in the form of Agu’s thoughts - and that frequency interrupts a handful of interesting visual sequences. In truth, there’s nothing really new in this tale that we haven’t seen before - for instance, in the more absorbing “War Witch” or the chaotic “Johnny Mad Dog”. Struggling to put every little piece together in a calibrated way, “Beasts of No Nation” is a so-so war drama that happens to be fascinating for its imagery rather than for the additional ways found to express its brutal story.

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